Does it mean being obedient to God’s law? If you know Abraham’s story, then you know he was obedient when God told him to leave home and go acquire land in the great unknown. However, it wouldn’t be for another few hundred years that God would give the law to Moses while he was leading Abraham’s descendants through the wilderness.
Maybe it means being perfectly good all the time? Never ceasing to do the right thing. Abraham was a good and just person, so much so God sends Melchizedek to blesses Abraham. But to be honest, Abraham was far from perfect. He was human like you and me. Although, there were a few times when his mistakes almost put God’s covenant in jeopardy.
There were also times when Abraham questioned and challenged God whose promise seemed a bit too good to be true. Although he was no saint, God reckoned Abraham righteous. Why? Simply because Abraham trusted what God said and lived his life accordingly. No matter how messy his life got or how impossible things seemed be, Abraham held onto the hope of God’s word. And as such, God didn’t let him down.
There are many different ways we hold on to hope. My kids hope to pass a test. My friend hopes to get a job. And I hope more people will support our ministry. But as I have learned in life, whenever I put my hope in material things or in people, I expect to be disappointed because whether it’s intentional or unintentional, these things will let us down. Just as there will always be finite disappointment, we also have infinite hope in the One who will never let us down.
Read Romans 4:18-22
This does not to say Abraham never doubted, or never tried to take matters into his own hands. But when it mattered, Abraham faithfully trusts in God’s covenant promise, he believed and his faith grew and strengthened. Because of his faith, Abraham could step out of his comfort zone, to take great risks, and do what God has called him to do. And so can we. If we believe that God’s promises are real and trustworthy, then we have all that we need to do all that God needs us to do. Righteousness is tied to God’s righteous word…where we can put our hope.
With the looming threat of climate change, the current state of world politics, or a schizophrenic economy it’s easy for people feel hopeless. This sense of hopelessness, along with all the hypocrisy and division found in our religious communities, have pushed people to lose faith or stop believing all together.
If you’re feeling like this, you’re not alone. The Bible is filled with people who felt hopeless: Job, Moses, Jonah, Jeremiah, and Elijah - all of these biblical heroes went through a crisis of faith. Imagine being a disciple and witnessing Jesus’ death. How does one recover one’s faith after the rug is pulled out from underneath all you believed in?
They trusted that God’s word is true. The resurrection would be their proof. In all their fears, doubts, and anxieties the steadfast love of God remained. God's love came to be with us in the flesh, to strengthen our hope and faith us no matter where we are in our journey.
Read Romans 4:23-5:2
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Lent is not just a time to fast. It is also a time to feast. A time receive nourishment and be strengthened by the truth and righteousness of Christ Jesus, who, like Abraham, did not waver in unbelief, but grew in faith, always giving glory to God.
Whenever I feel hopeless, I can look at the cross of Christ and be reminded of the Easter joy that soon followed. In Christ I find my hope, because in him I am assured of God’s love for me. In Christ I know I am not alone, or without hope.
Thanks to Christ, you too are a beloved child of God, sharing in the feast of God’s steadfast love. In Christ, you are made righteous and are called to love like he did; to love God and others; to be a fulfillment of God’s covenant promise to all of creation.
I invite you to not just to walk right with God, but to walk knowing that God is right beside you and all around you. In Christ, God comes to be with us in all our human messiness. But when we walk in his footsteps, we know that we walk right before God.
As you leave here today, remember that God hungers for you – for your righteousness, not your perfection. No matter how badly you’ve mess up, how many times you’ve doubted or questioned God, God has never doubted or given up on you. Therefore, your righteousness will never cease...if only because God's hunger for you never does.
An ex-copywriter turned punk rock pastor and peacemaker who dedicates his life to making the world a better place for all humanity.
"that they all might be one" ~John 17:21
“Prius vita quam doctrina.”
~ St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274)
* “Life is more important than doctrine.”